Category Archives: Travel

All These Cities I’ve Lived In

I’ve lived in 19 cities over the course of 33 years thus far. In the United States, these include urban, suburban, and rural places in the Midwest, the Rust Belt, New England, the Southwest, and the Deep South. Internationally, I’ve lived in Paris, France and London, United Kingdom.

For some of these cities, I lived in multiple domiciles over time.

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Anatomy of Azusa

It is commonly held that the founders of Azusa, California named it such because they envisioned it having “everything from A to Z in the USA”, but one Los Angeles Times writer had another theory (via Wikipedia.)

Azusa has enough for me. I moved here from North Hollywood on March 10th, 2010. This small city (pop. 45,000) is cinched right up to the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, which is contiguous with the San Bernardino National Forest. The main drag in Azusa is Foothill Drive. I am writing this at a Starbucks situated on that road.

My first weekend in town, I took a walk towards the mountains, intending to touch them. But they were farther than they looked, so after two miles I ended up sitting in a little concrete seating area among flowers.

There are plenty of palms here, and plenty of March sunshine.

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Westward Invasion Complete. Commencing Overthrow of L.A.

Not to get too militaresque here.

This is just a quick update for all those who follow this blog and want to know where I am at. I hope this answers a few questions.

The road trip was a success. Katherine and I had a complete ball exploring the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and most important, the people of these United States. We slept and spent time in a total of seven cities: Wichita, Dallas, Las Cruces, Tucson, Tempe, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. We made day excursions to White Sands, the Saguaro National Forest, and Sedona. Katherine’s journey is still on, but my move is complete.

Wichita: We spent one night here. Our hosts were young professional classical musicians, and together constituted the very best first CouchSurfing.org experience I could possible have asked for.

Dallas: Five nights here. Our host Ramano is an ER doctor and fitness buff with a very active social life. He and his friends showed Katherine and me a Dallas that we could never have experienced without such insider knowledge as has Ramano. We hung out at some beautiful restaurants and partook of two restaurant promotions in which we were served free Italian food and pizza. We visited the Sixth Floor Museum, where the alleged lone assassin shot JFK and lounged upon the grassy knoll. I attended a play called Hunter Gatherers, which was a perfect 10.

Las Cruces: Our hosts David and Jessica were very sweet. Katherine and I were their second couch surfers ever. They took us out to a local joint for southwestern food. We had a great time joking and opining about the State of Things.

Tucson: If I can pick favorites (I can’t), Tucson was my favorite city. Our host Kisani, a medical doctor training to become a psychiatrist, was lovely. She handed us party masks upon our arrival and pointed us to a warehouse masquerade ball full of dance performances, aerial acrobatics, feats of self-mutilation, great live music, and hundreds of Tucson denizens dressed in their finest masked attire. Katherine and I spent much of our time in Tucson frequenting the coffee shops in the area, two or three of which are 24-hour joints. I walked around downtown and along 4th Avenue a lot, taking in the artistic vagrant hippie atmosphere.

Phoenix/Tempe: We spent one night here. I hung out on the Arizona State University campus a bit, working and blogging, while Katherine was out on one of her many research meetings. We stayed with a group of guys in Tempe that were just really cool. One works for an airline, another is a political science major, and the third is a Finish immigrant exploring American culture. We all hung out over beer at their house.

Las Vegas: Katherine and I didn’t stay on a CouchSurfing person’s couch. Instead we stayed at the home of Ajay and Allison, who are friends of a friend of Katherine’s. Now we are all just friends, without the “friend of a” prefix. I like when that happens.

L.A.: I took a Chinatown Bus from Vegas to my new home here, while Katherine stayed back a week in Vegas to do some more research for her long-term book project. My roommates/hosts/landlords/friends Paula and Aaron are great to hang with. Katherine will be staying on a couch here in my new nest for five days starting this evening.

That’s the history of Westward Invasion. Currently I am working on catching up with finances, as the road trip tore my wallet limb from limb. After I am caught up I intend to explore L.A., as well as the West at large. Concurrently I will be creating things. I will write, shoot and edit video of things, find out where the hip hop and poetry open mics are in the area, maybe hit up a few auditions for plays and films, whatever comes to mind.

I look forward to finding out how I can contribute to the arts and cultural scene of Los Angeles. As Emma, a friend and collaborator, and I say, “We’re going to rock this little hamlet to its knees.”

Headed to L.A. Early: TODAY. Dispatch within…

I am taking a Chinatown Bus from Las Vegas to Los Angeles at 2:45 p.m. today. It’s a five-hour ride. Chinatown Bus is cheap: $30. Better than Greyhound. Megabus no longer exists for that route, otherwise I would have taken that for like a dollar. Seriously.

This adventure is not over, not drawing to a close – but unfolding into the next unknown, which I face squarely. I now walk into the future. We all do.

There is so much to write about. It will have to be a reflective series of after-thoughts, rather than a series of real-time dispatches.

I spend my first night in L.A. tonight. I am excited.

Vegas is cool. I did the Strip last night, just drove down it with hosts Ajay and Allison, who know Katherine from way back, in Minneapolis. Had a great dinner with them and a handful of other great peeps last night at an Indian restaurant called Gandhi.

The moon was big and yellow and low on the horizon last night around 8:00 p.m. Unbelievable.

Thoughts are a storm. A good, warm storm.

Taking a breath to let you know what’s going on…

I haven’t gotten a chance to write a proper blog post about Westward Invasion, Road Trip 2010, or whatever you want to call this Kerouacian journey I am on. Currently I am in a Starbucks on the Arizona State University campus in Phoenix. There is free WiFi here courtesy of ASU. I have made a dozen coffee shop stops, but mostly to work. (I write how-to articles for Demand Studios and do freelance marketing writing/design.)

To date, my travel buddy Katherine and I have slept in Wichita, Kansas; Dallas, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; and Tempe, Arizona. She found all our hosts through CouchSurfing.org, a unique website that fosters cultural exchange through pay-it-forward couch surfing. CouchSurfing.org is a true, real-life community of networked individuals who enjoy traveling and exchanging cultural DNA. I am astounded by our hosts and how willing they are to share their world with Katherine and me.

It has been a wonderful time. Everything is going pretty damn well. I have met so many interesting people, seen so many beautiful things, that I haven’t even begun to be able to express it all. I have stories to tell, portraits to paint in words. I have videos and photos to show you.

I intend to get it all down eventually. I want to spend some time singing the praises of all our hosts. I want to write that review of Hunter Gatherers, an AWESOME play I saw in Dallas (replete with actor interview footage courtesy of my Flip cam). I need to spend a blog post putting this all in context. I want to share some lessons I have learned, or at least some observations.

Travel is nothing new to me. I have been traveling and learning the ways of the world and my vast country for the past decade. This trip is unique, however, in that it encompasses real life and my Internet life and attempts to marry the two. As I said at the beginning of this post, it is difficult to keep up communications and also experience this journey first-hand. It’s a balancing act.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog. Please pass the URL on to those who want to share my interesting experience in real time. I will keep it up-to-date as much as possible, and when the journey is over, I will have a chance to upload some of the hundreds of videos and images I have gathered since January 18th of this year.

Next stop: Flagstaff. Then: Vegas.

Then my new home sweet home: North Hollywood, Los Angeles. I got a hunger for that city and I intend to eat the whole thing.